(Reuters)-Elected officials in Texas say that the state should help pay part of the water and electricity bills after the devastating and deadly winter storm caused widespread blackouts to the residents’ eyes.
Texas has a very unusual deregulated energy market that allows consumers to choose between dozens of competing e-commerce companies.
Some suppliers sell electricity at wholesale prices, and wholesale prices have risen in tandem with demand because the record-breaking freeze has frozen a state not accustomed to extreme cold, killing at least 20 people and providing electricity to more than 4 million people during peak periods; Texas Governor Greg Abbott said that about 30,000 people were still without electricity on Sunday.
As a result, based on photos of invoices posted by angry consumers on social media, some Texans who were still able to turn on the lights or keep the refrigerator running found themselves receiving a $5,000 bill in just five days.
According to the Dallas Morning News, suppliers that provide wholesale tariff plans have urged thousands of their customers to switch suppliers before the storm hits to avoid high prices, but many people find that changing suppliers will take too long.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said in an interview with CBS News on Sunday: “The bill should be handed over to Texas.”
Fort Worth Mayor Betty Price (Betsy Price) told CBS that the state and federal governments should be expected to help the bill.
U.S. Senator Ted Cruz was forced to take a vacation with his family to the beach resort of Cancun, Mexico after public outrage. He also stayed away from the free market system he had previously praised.
“This is wrong,” Cruz wrote on Twitter. “No power company will make a lot of money due to natural disasters, and Texans should not be hit by the ridiculous rate hike because of last week’s energy crisis. State and local regulators should act quickly to prevent This kind of unfair treatment.”
Abbott convened an emergency meeting of state legislators to discuss the issue on Saturday and said in a statement that they have a responsibility to ensure that Texans “do not fall into soaring energy bills.”
The governor told reporters on Sunday that the Texas Public Utilities Commission will order the power company to suspend sending electricity bills to customers. Abbott also said that the committee is also suspending payment of outstanding payments.
In addition, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has issued a civil investigation request to the electric company regarding power outages, contingency plans and prices, saying that the electric company “seriously mishandled” the weather emergency.
U.S. President Biden approved a major disaster statement in Texas on Saturday, which will provide federal funds to people injured by the hurricane, including assistance for temporary housing and home repairs and low-cost loans.
All the power plants were back online this weekend. With the weather returning to normal, electricity in most homes has been restored, but there are still concerns about water supply. It is recommended that millions of Texans remove water before using it. boil. Houston officials said that as of Sunday, the city’s water can be used safely without boiling.
Reporting by Linda So in Washington and Jonathan Allen in New York; Editing by Daniel Wallis